terça-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2016

Civis Romanus Sum!

It is well known that the people we call Byzantines today called themselves Romans (Romaioi). In the middle period of Byzantium's history [...] this "national" label appears or is pervasive in virtually all texts and documents (excluding the strictly theological) regardless of the geographical and social origins of their authors, which, in Byzantium, were diverse. ("Byzantines" were for them only the residents of Constantinople, archaically styled after the City's classical name.) These Romans called their state Romania (Ῥωμανία) or Romaïs, its capital New Rome (among other names, titles, and epithets), and its rulers the basileis of the Romans, whom we call "emperors." This Roman identity survived the fall of the empire and Ottoman rule, though it was greatly changed by those events. While in Byzantium the Romans were a highly unified nation, under the Porte [= Império Otomano] they were redefined so as to encompass a multi-ethnic and linguistically diverse religious community. Later, with the foundation of the modern Greek state, romiosyne came to represent the orthodox and demotic aspects of the new Hellenic national persona, complementing the classical and idealistic aspect that was projected abroad. Continuity and change are alike illustrated in a story remembered by Peter Charanis, born on the island of Lemnos in 1908 and later a professor of Byzantine history at Rutgers University.
When the island was occupied by the Greek navy [in 1912], Greek soldiers were sent to the villages and stationed themselves in the public squares. Some of us children ran to see what these Greek soldiers, these Hellenes, looked like. "What are you looking at?" one of them asked. "At Hellenes," we replied. "Are you not Hellenes yourselves?" he retorted. "No, we are Romans."
Thus was the most ancient national identity in all of history finally absorbed and ended. Charanis, as we will see, eventually came to regard himself as a Hellene.

Anthony Kaldellis. Hellenism in Byzantium. CUP